1817. -- 1832.
'I call him a wise man, whose knowledge is rich and varied -- digested and combined -and pervaded, through and through, by the light of the Spirit of God." -- Altered from Dr. Arnold.
"From Sextus, and from the contemplation of his character, I learned what it was to live a life in harmony with nature; and that seemliness and dignity of deportment, which earned the profoundest reverence, at the very same time that his company was more winning than all the flattery in the world; of all his attractions he set the least value on the multiplicity of his literary acquisitions." -- Translated from M. Antoninus, by Coleridge.
"Not only -- unlike many. who, in the 'warm beams and sunshine,' cast off their innocence, as the traveler, in the fable, his cloak -- did he hold fast his integrity, but he manifested that weanedness from the world, and indifference to its trifling vanities, which must of necessity be enumerated among the surest proofs of godliness. The lowliness of his mind, instead of being diminished, seems to have been increased with the accumulation of honor; and riches, used by him with the moderation which is divinely enjoined, so far from being trusted in, gave frequency and solemnity to his anticipations of a final account." -- Williams' Life of Sir M. Hale.
* * *
It is curious to find, that while the zest with which Doctor Clarke pursued his different studies continued, and the affection which he had for different places, persons, cud things, was retained and even augmented in its force, his antipathies gathered strength in the same way. Dining with a friend, at whose table a roast pig was the bottom dish, and being requested to say grace, he rose from his seat, and spreading abroad his hands invoked a general blessing; then, as if to save his credit for consistency, singling out the obnoxious article, added, -- "And if thou, O Lord, canst bless under the gospel, what thou hast cursed under the law, bless also this pig." It required no ordinary command of muscle to look grave on the occasion. The writer being assisted to a little ham by him, on another occasion, quietly asked, how he could help another to that which he deemed pernicious "there is no law in this land," he returned smartly, "to prevent a man from eating swine's flesh should he be so disposed."
In the course of 1817, he opened a Wesleyan chapel in Litchfield, which was the first place of worship of any magnitude the Methodists had in the town. It brought to his recollection earlier days, and "troublous times," when, on the division occasioned by Mr. Kuham, he met in solemn conclave with Messrs. Mather, Pawson, Rogers, Doctor Coke, Bradburn, Moore, and T. Taylor, to deliberate on the affairs of the connection. He now had a private house to go to, instead of an inn, and was accompanied by Mrs. Clarke. The contrast produced a joyousness of heart, which made him next to playful in the social circle, while his state of mind fitted him more fully for entering into feelings of a literary character, visiting the birth place of Dr. Samuel Johnson, -- a man, who, like himself, from not one of the most auspicious outsets in life, had worked his way up, through the strength of his own intellectual character, to some of the highest Alps in the republic of letters.
The good friends in Hull had long entertained an ardent desire to have a visit from the Doctor; and in the December of 1817, he complied with their request. He was accompanied by a friend; and while journeying toward the place, one of their subjects of conversation was, the circumstances in which those religious persons are placed, who are obliged to pursue their business by. frequent journeys both by sea and land, in which all privacy is precluded; and where, consequently, that daily walk which a Christian should observe towards his Maker, is often so unavoidably interrupted, that it is next to impossible to have a recollected mind, or a heart regularly turned to God by prayer and meditation. In discussing the subject they agreed, that to have a solemn form of well chosen words, by which the mind could fully express itself in reference to its circumstances, without the labor of looking for suitable expressions, would be of great utility; -- and the third Collect for Grace, in the Liturgy of the Church of England, appeared to contain both the ideas and words, which, above all others were best adapted to such occasions; and in which every Christian heart could join. On this account, he termed the Collect, "The Traveler's Prayer;" and then formed the resolution, on the event of commanding sufficient time, to write a short discourse upon it, not only with the view of recommending such a suitable and comprehensive form for the purpose, but also to explain the import and force of each expression, that the person who should use it in such pilgrimage, might have the full benefit, by praying not only with the spirit, but with the understanding also. His purpose however, remained unfulfilled, till August, 1828, on his return from the Shetland Isles, in the circumnavigation of the entire group of which, the biographer had the pleasure of accompanying him. --The fatigues of this voyage, and a long land journey, gave new vigor to his purpose; and one day's repose furnished him with an opportunity of composing this very useful and ingenious discourse.
While in Hull, be domiciled with Mr. Robert Garbutt; and during his sojourn there, a native of Turkey, who could not render himself sufficiently intelligible in English, was introduced to him by some friends, who were anxious to know something of his personal history, and the object of his visit to England. The Doctor proposed some questions to him in the Persic and Arabic languages, but found him somewhat taciturn, -- ascertaining sufficient however to understand, that a little pecuniary aid would not be unacceptable.  The ministry of the Doctor was highly appreciated, and the collections made on the occasion, greatly aided the fund of the School. He had been in quest some time of the beautifully twisted horns of the NARWAL, commonly called the Sea-Unicorn -- the Monoclon monoceræs of Linnæus, for the purpose of forming two posts for a bed-stead, and was fortunate enough to secure one in the course of his visit. He left a commission with the writer to secure a fellow for it: but it was not till some years after he was laid at rest in the tomb, that the writer met with an entire bed, supported by a handsome pair, beautiful as the ivory from the tusk of the elephant, and nearly six feet in length, exclusive of the sockets; -- a purchase preserved not only as a rarity, but in memory of him, who otherwise would have had the offer of it for acceptance. Having to make a collection for the schools in Bridgewater-Street Chapel, Manchester, he took occasion to animadvert on a practice which we consider to be, at least of very questionable utility: toward the close of the sermon he paused; and looking at the seats appropriated to the poor, observed, with evidently painful feeling, -- "I am sorry to see the poor's seats so comparatively unoccupied; and it will ever be so while you have that theatrical custom of taking money at the doors; you would have had a better collection without it: and I add, so long as this is done, you will never see Adam Clarke here again." He was extremely tender of the poor, and was jealous of any encroachment upon their freedom -- a freedom chartered by God himself: "The poor have -the gospel preached unto them."
In the month of February, 1818, the Doctor proceeded to Oxford, in company with Mrs. Clarke and two friends, in order to fulfill his promise of taking a part in the opening services of a new Wesleyan chapel in that city. When within a couple of stages of its destination, a young lady rode up to the coach attended by her servant, and begged to know, as it was raining, Whether she could be accommodated with a seat; although the vehicle had its full complement, the party cheerfully acquiesced in the lady's wish, who was soon comfortably seated between the two gentlemen, and opposite to the Doctor and Mrs. Clarke. Finding the company communicative, she felt - disposed to improve the opportunity, and having ascertained they were all going to Oxford, and likely to remain a few days there, she told them she was going to attend the opening services of the new Wesleyan chapel, although not herself a Wesleyan, and importuned them, as they might not be favored with such an opportunity again, to go and hear the celebrated ministers who were engaged for the occasion; "but especially," she added, looking across at the Doctor, "I should like you sir, and your lady, to hear the celebrated Doctor Adam Clarke; I do not know that gentleman myself, and have understood that be is by no means so eloquent an orator as Mr. Watson; indeed, that he is in his style of preaching, a very plain man; yet he is a man highly distinguished for learning, and other great attainments, and I dare say will preach a most excellent sermon, therefore I should much wish you to hear him." By this time the Doctor's friends were nearly convulsed with irrepressible mirth; upon perceiving which, she said, -- "Gentlemen, you may make yourselves merry if you please, but I am at a loss to know what portion of my conversation can possibly have created so much levity; I do not believe either of you will go, but I think (bowing courteously to her opposite neighbors) this lady and gentleman will; -- may I not hope, madam, I have prevailed with you?" Mrs. Clarke said, "I think you will see us both there; and will you promise, if we comply with your wish, that you will come and speak to me at the conclusion of the service? " -the thing was agreed, and the conversation then turned upon the days in which the Papal persecutions consigned men to the stake for their religious faith. "Ah, yes!" ejaculated the young lady, "these were indeed times of trial! I wonder whether we could burn for our religion. You know of course Sir, " addressing the Doctor, "that Oxford claims two celebrated martyrs." The travelers were now in the renowned seat of learning; and once more reminding Mrs. Clarke of her promise, they shook hands and separated. The next day found Mrs. Clarke and Miss -- , side by side, (though of course accidentally) in the new chapel, and the two friends seated just behind them; she bowed to Mrs. Clarke, thanked her for coming, and said, -- "but indeed, from the behavior of your friends yesterday, I certainly did not expect they would have been here." At length Doctor Clarke ascended the pulpit stairs; -- let the condition of Miss , be imagined: she looked at Mrs. Clarke in speechless agony, and unutterable dismay, for a second, then burst into tears and said, -- "That was too bad Mrs. Clarke, too bad!" But the poor girl's trials on the occasion, did not end here: Mr. Watson, having heard the affair narrated with great glee by the Doctor's friends at a dinner table, related it to a large party who took tea at the house in which he was entertained on the occasion; expatiating with considerable naïveté upon the singularity of the case, and the probable feeling of the young lady on recognizing the Doctor in the pulpit: he was listened to, of course, with great delight by the major part of the company; -- but one sat there, who was mute as the skeleton of the Egyptian feast -- it was the heroine of the tale! Doctor Clarke hearing of this, wrote an affectionate letter to her, fearing lest the adventure should have an unhappy effect upon her ingenuous mind; and as in the interim, he had learned her history and family connections, gave her a kind invitation to Heydon-Hall; an invitation accepted during a visit paid by the writer to the same hospitable mansion, when an opportunity was afforded of having the entire narrative, fresh and glowing from the lips of Miss C -- , herself.
The Doctor's opening sermon on the Thursday forenoon, was remarkably plain and simple, and only about half-an-hour in length. This might be partly accounted for, from the circumstance of having had his mind somewhat disconcerted by the singers; who, in opposition to an expressed wish, resolved to sing a Piece before the sermon. The next evening, however, (Friday the 10th,) he amply compensated: the discourse, on the testimony of the Rev. Daniel Walton, a very competent judge, being one of the most extraordinary he had ever heard the Doctor deliver: his first text was selected from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the second from Psalm lxxxix. 15, 16.
One, of a party invited to meet the Doctor while in Oxford, and who was a preacher, was an incorrigible smoker. This gentleman stole down stairs to enjoy himself, placing the pipe-head and his mouth, as much within the range of the fire-place as the heat would allow, in order to prevent the tobacco fumes from ascending to the higher part of the house. But the Doctor's scent was too keen on this subject to admit of escape; and like a vision, he soon stood in the kitchen revealed before the eye of the reverend gentleman. "Brother A.," said he, "you are killing yourself; my father killed himself with smoking." Though taken by surprise at first, Mr. A. soon rallied, and finding that a little hardihood would serve his purpose better than timidity or confession, he replied, -- "We are opposed to each other on this subject, Doctor Clarke: the pipe does me good, and my father died of constipation of the bowels because he could not learn to smoke."
This year the Chapel Fund was instituted, which is one illustration among many others, of the varied movements to which the system of the Wesleyan body is propelled by the principle of Christianity, to bear on the outfield population. This fund Doctor Clarke justly classed "among the many improvements which have been made of late years in the external economy of Methodism." His sentiments, -- that "it is a great charity to build chapels for the accommodation of the poor," may be subscribed to, with equal cordiality. It would be a serious omission, while adverting to this subject, not to name his valuable "Letter on the General Chapel Fund," in which the principle is not only ably discussed, but through which the fund itself was essentially aided. He had a strong feeling against mere ornament; and to show his contempt of some ornamental plaister-work around the aperture made for the chain of the chandelier in the center of the ceiling, which was not in keeping with the other part of the erection, he inquired significantly, turning his eye upward, "Why have they placed those glorified cabbage leaves there?" He considered Methodism infinitely more honored by the aggregate amount and influence of the more humble structures, in dissolute and wretched neighborhoods, than by her costlier temples. Being asked his opinion of the Toleration Act, as passed about this time, and being interested for his native country, he remarked, -- "In looking into that Act, I am surprised to find there is nothing in it, referring directly to Ireland; though I think, in the way of implication, the 9th and 10th articles will apply. Not being satisfied with it, he consulted a professional gentleman, stating his own opinion of these two articles. The legal gentleman coincided with his interpretation, as presumptive evidence that the Act was intended to include the United Kingdom; only, reminding him, that the Act stated that in "cases of infringement penalties could be sued for, only in the courts of England and Wales." The opinion which the Doctor stated to the biographer, and which may be of service another day, is as follows:
"The Acts repealed by the last Toleration Act did not extend to Ireland, but to England, and Wales, and Berwick only. Had they extended to Ireland, an argument, though perhaps not a good one, might have been supported in favor of the last statute, that it was meant and intended to include, and did include, Ireland."
"The other statutes which the last act proposed to amend, did not include Ireland, and there should have been probably a specific enactment to bring her under the protection of that Act, or the amendments may be considered as limited to the places which were protected by the Acts amended by the last statute."
"The Church of England upon the Union with Ireland, became the Church of the United Kingdom; and therefore, calling her by that name in a statute passed since the Union, is not I fear sufficient, to give a jurisdiction under the Toleration Act to Ireland, and the protecting a person fully employed as a minister in any part of the United Kingdom was perhaps meant to preserve itinerant preachers from the militia. Suppose a case: a person qualifies in England, and the Conference sends him to Ireland or to Scotland, he would, in either country, be exempt from the militia, even admitting that the statute does not apply in its general tenor to either country. Upon the whole, though under the impression of doubt, I am inclined to think that a statute should be obtained to amend the last with respect to Ireland."
The Doctor added, "This opinion is of consequence, as a similar omission has attended the Marriage Act, which has occasioned some of our preachers in Ireland to conclude, that they have no authority to solemnize the marriage-rite in that country, between those who have a ticket, or take out -- a ticket to denote they belong to the Society. If, therefore, the Toleration Act does not extend to Ireland, those marriages are at least doubtful."
Though Doctor Clarke knew Mr. William Dawson before this, by character and name, yet it was not till now they had the pleasure of enjoying each other's society; first, in the city of Chester, at a Missionary Meeting, and next at Liverpool, on a similar occasion. They both preached. Mr. Dawson, as a "tiller of the ground," represented the heathen world under the notion of n field; and the Baptists, Moravians, Calvinists, &c., as engaged in cultivating the great moral waste. The Doctor was much pleased with the freshness, force, and ingenuity displayed. They traveled between Chester and Liverpool, in a post-chaise, in company with a friend who had lost a leg, and who, in consequence of the vehicle not being exactly adapted to the bulk of three such personages, aided by its jostlings, permitted on first starting -- of course unintentionally, its unfeeling substitute to play off a few rubbers against the Doctor's more sensitive shin, -- there was less disposition for free conversation at first, than the social arm-chair would have admitted. However, as Mr. Dawson observed to the writer, they were soon indulged with some fine gleams of sunshine; and the Doctor adverting to the cultivators of the foreign waste in his speech, pleasantly remarked -- showing at the same time, his strong general redemption principles,-
"If I found a Calvinistic field in heaven, I should pass by it, and go to some other." In traveling the eighteen miles, the Doctor forgot his shins and his wedgings at least two-thirds of the way, being so much delighted with the conversation of his companion; and the next morning accosted a friend, who came to meet him thus:-- "Your friend Mr. Dawson and myself talked all the way to Liverpool yesterday evening, and what an astonishing mind the man has! He assigned reasons constantly for every thing he had done." Shortly after this, Mr. Dawson again met with him in the city of Bristol, when he was much struck with a statement by the Doctor, namely, "That he had examined the religion of the Hindus, the Mohamedans, &c. &c., but in all the different religions which had passed in review before him, CHRISTIANITY was the only one that staked its credit for pardon on present belief."
In the month of May, the doctor was requested to visit the Metropolis, in order to preach two of the annual sermons in aid of the funds of the Wesleyan Foreign Missions, and attend the public meeting. While on the platform, he received a letter from Sir Alexander Johnstone, then within sight of land, on his return from the island of Ceylon; and in about half an hour another note was handed to him from the same gentleman, stating his actual arrival, and adding a wish to see him as soon as possible. On the following day he had an interview with Sir Alexander, who informed him that he had brought with him two of the high-priests of Buddha, who had left their country for England, to be instructed in the truths of Christianity. Two days after this, the Doctor received them from on board the vessel at Blackwall. The name of the one was Munhi Rat'hana, Teerunanxi, was twenty-seven years of age, and had been high-priest eight years: the other bore the name of Dherma Rama, was twenty-five years old, and had been between six and seven years in the priesthood, for which both had been educated from their youth. They were cousins-german, and exceedingly interesting both as to person and intellect. As a full account of them, as to their lineage, person, character, studies, progress in knowledge, &c., is to be found in Dr. Clarke's "Miscellaneous Works," vol. xii. P. p. 18-79. it is unnecessary to enlarge beyond a few remarks.
It will be proper, however, as Sir Alexander Johnstone is introduced into the history, to go back to Dr. Clarke's first acquaintance with that gentleman, which took place in the year 1812, previously to Sir Alexander's second visit to Ceylon, when he was appointed supreme judge. This gentleman, ever anxious for the political, moral, and religious improvement of the natives, to whom, in the order of providence, he was appointed to administer justice, applied to the Doctor, then residing in London, to know if he could recommend to him two intelligent, pious young men, who would be willing to go to that part of India, and become school-masters, catechists, and teachers, itt order to diffuse the knowledge of unadulterated Christianity, among a million and a half of British subjects, degraded by heathenism and superstitious darkness; and who, weary of their delusions, would be glad to receive the truth; not having, in fact, one prejudice against the Christian religion. Dr. Clarke promised to inquire; and, accordingly, did so at the ensuing Conference. The late Dr. Coke, having perhaps as much of the spirit of a missionary as any man since the apostolic age, volunteered his services to conduct a mission to continental India. Dr. Clarke pleaded strongly for the propriety of attempting the Christianization of the island of Ceylon, as the first step, showing that it might in all probability be the key to continental India. The Conference agreed to the proposal with the greatest unanimity, and adopted the measure by appointing Messrs. Lynch, Erskine, Haryard, Squance, Ault, Clough, and McKenny, to proceed to India under the direction of Dr. Coke; one of the missionaries was to be left at the Cape, one at Java, and five to proceed to Ceylon. They sailed, as previously noticed, in 1814; Mr. McKenny went to the Cape, but the way to Java not yet appearing sufficiently open, neither of the brethren was left there. Dr. Coke died on his passage; the other six reached in safety the island of Ceylon, where they were received in the most humane and Christian manner by the constituted authorities, and by several well disposed persons at Colombo, and elsewhere. They saw, however, that little good could be expected to result from their labors, till they had acquired a knowledge of the vernacular tongues of the island, and they first attempted Cingalese. In this they made such proficiency that in a comparatively short time, they were enabled by the assistance of some learned natives, and. others, to translate the whole New Testament into that language. This translation got into the hands of the two Cingalese priests in question, who having naturally curious and inquiring minds, read it with care and attention, and were deeply impressed with the character of our blessed Lord, and were from his history led to contemplate him as the most wise and benevolent of beings. Their attention thus roused, they inquired and sought deeper still into the truths of our holy religion; and in proportion to their inquiry, so was their reliance shaken in their belief of Buddhism. Still, however, they could not see -- for they mutually examined and perused this translation of our Testament together, how they could, without subjecting themselves to privations and hardships, make any profession of their growing attachment to Christianity while in their own temple; but the desire to know it yet more fully induced them to wish to visit that happy country, itt which they knew it was the established religion, and of which they had formed the highest conceptions. Hearing that Sir A. Johnstone was about to return to Europe, on account of his lady's health, they agreed to request him to allow them to accompany him to England. Previously to this, they had no personal acquaintance with that gentleman; but they knew the excellency and philanthropy of his character; and as were their views of him, so was his conduct towards them: he treated them with respect and tenderness. On their arrival in England, Sir Alexander was at a loss how to dispose of them, in order that they might attain the end for which they had undertaken so long and wearying a voyage, and communicated his anxieties to Dr. Clarke, whose counsel he solicited. The Doctor observed, "I think our Missionary Committee will take them; but if not, I will do honor to their motives, trust in the Lord, and take the whole burden upon myself." Sir Alexander rejoiced, and said, "You shall not bear the burden alone;" and it was agreed that the Doctor should lay the subject before the Missionary Committee. This was accordingly done: the Committee heard the Doctor at great length on a number of topics connected with the history, religion, and object of the priests. The issue was, the Committee agreed to take them, be at the expense of their support, and by an unanimous vote placed them under the care of the Doctor, who offered his gratuitous services. They arrived at Millbrook on the 16th of the month in company with their friend -- Dr. Clarke, who was destined to be their preceptor.
After living in the family twenty-two months, they were baptized by the Doctor in Brunswick chapel, Liverpool, March 12, 1820, being Sunday. Though the ceremony was kept as private as possible, the chapel was crowded to excess. The Doctor, after an interesting address, went regularly through the whole service for the baptism of adults. To the respective questions, the young men, though deeply affected, answered clearly, distinctly, and with much animation. This done, they both knelt down, and were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, water being thrice poured upon their heads; that is, once on the mention of each of the divine names. The elder earnestly requested to have the name of his Christian instructor added and prefixed to his own; and was accordingly baptized Adam, Sree Goonah, Munhi Rathana; his sponsors were Thomas Kaye and John Forshaw, Esqrs., and Mrs. Forshaw. The younger, wishing to take the name of his patron, the Hon. Sir Alexander Johnstone, was baptized Alexander Dherma Rama; his sponsors were, the Rev. Robert Newton, William Corner, Esqr., and Mrs. W. Corner. The Doctor, after this, addressed the sponsors, and then, in the most solemn and impressive manner, taking the priests successively by the hand, said, "By this baptism administered to you in the name of the most holy Trinity, and by the suffrages of this emigration, I admit you into the Christian church." There were few in the congregation who were not in tears; and what was remarkable, long as the service was, and cold as was the season, not so much as a cough seemed to be heard; the whole mass of the congregation being so engaged in the sacred worship as to absorb their animal feelings, and to suspend all personal considerations; it was the stillness of intense feeling, and a feeling too, which few would forget, and which would never be remembered but with the liveliest emotions of gratitude and joy.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was then administered to many hundreds of persons, the priests and their sponsors occupying the first table. This was a most solemn scene: Dr. Clarke, evidently indisposed before he began, had now been employed upwards of two hours without intermission, and appeared much exhausted; but when he came to administer the sacred elements to the newly baptized strangers, his feelings completely overpowered him, and he found it difficult for some time to proceed; the tears flowed down the cheeks of the new Christians, and a deep and universal sobbing plainly told the heartfelt interest all took in the solemn scene before them; a scene whose novelty was only exceeded by its sacredness. Alexander Dherma llama, who had long through fear of death been subject to bondage, had, during this service, his fears removed, saying, "Oh! I no fear to die now; if I die I go straight to the kingdom of God." Adam Munhi Rathana, on returning to his room, prostrated himself on the floor, and spent a long time in tears, prayer, and praise. Both expressed themselves as powerfully affected, and "feeling more happy, and their hearts more light, than they had ever experienced in their lives."
In addition to the account published of them in the twelfth volume of the Doctor's Miscellaneous Works, some idea may be formed of the difficulty he had in communicating correct views of God to them, by a reference to his Sermon on "St. Paul's Metaphysics," founded on Rom. i. 20, vol. vii., p. 383. Yet they were intelligent men. The Doctor used to call them his "lovely young fellows," (to the writer,) -- "black but comely;" and observed, that they were "as docile as spaniels." He bore testimony to their intense thirst after knowledge, and considered them well instructed in the literature of their country, having been educated not only in their maternal language, but also in the Patois Portuguese, the Pali, the Tamul, and the Sanskrit. The Doctor wrote for them, and subsequently published, his "Clavis Biblica." Shortly after their baptism, it was resolved they should return to their native country; and as Sir Richard Ottley was about to sail for Ceylon, as judge, it was deemed advisable that the priests should enjoy the advantage of his company on their passage home. In the latter end of April, Doctor and Mrs. Clarke went up to town, accompanied by the two priests. Previously to leaving Millbrook, the feelings of the priests increased in intensity as the time of their departure drew near: they wept and deplored the necessity of their return; visited each accustomed haunt, bidding it adieu; and then went into every room of the house. Doctor Clarke, after this, took them into the study, where, kneeling down, he commended them with much earnestness to God. This concluded, and covering their faces with their hands, in deep agony of spirit, they stepped into the chaise which was to convey them from a scene so endeared. The Doctor wrote a certificate strongly commendatory of diligence, acquirements, and character, "To all whom it [might] concern," dated, May 7th, 1820. Another was written by the direction of Lord Bathurst, signed, "Henry Coulbourn," and at Gravesend, Alexander Dherma Rama wrote to the Doctor; and again from Deal on the 22nd of the same month. The following letter supplies a short account of their voyage:-
Colombo, Dec. 19th, 1821.
"My dear father, -- Here I am comfortable and happy; however I will tell you my good generally: Since we sailed from England we have every Sunday had prayers, and sometimes had a sermon; every morning and evening we have met in Sir Richard Ottley's cabin to read the Bible and pray; indeed, sometimes, some of the other passengers have joined. We have three Sundays had the Lord's supper; indeed my mind sometimes rejoices concerning my soul.
Every day Judge Ottley order us to go to him for our improvement; indeed, by his teaching, we have got great knowledge -- also, he is very kind to us. Your book teaches us great knowledge: he talks to us out of it, and my mind is greatly satisfied with him all the time. I now better understand what you wrote to us in your little book, (Clavis Biblica, ) and I am now sorrowful in my mind, when I read your excellent teaching, seeing my great danger of everlasting death; but I have often, after reading, much satisfaction in my mind: you have done great kindness to me, and I feel much as I can for your sake.
On the 30th of October we arrived at Colombo; the governor very kind to me, and put me under the Rev. Doctor S -- -- , who came from England, colonial chaplain; with him I study Christian religion, and I hope, in a very short time, to be able to preach the salvation of Jesus Christ. When I was with you, I told you I wish to have some power to preach the gospel to heathen people; my wish, I thank God, he has done for me, and I have now exceeding happiness in receiving this great blessing, and in seeing my welfare in this respect. My dear father, I will never forget you: you cut me some of your hair, and when I think of you I take it in my hand, and seeing that, my mind is full of sorrow, wanting you. Hereafter I hope you send me your likeness; what you have done for me makes me feel highly, and my daily prayer is for you and your family.
I am, dear Sir, your obedient servant, ADAM MUNHI RAT'HANA."
To Doctor Adam Clarke.
On landing, they were favorably received by the local government. The eldest was appointed a government Proponent, or Chaplain, with authority to preach the gospel to his countrymen of his own caste, and to baptize and marry. The younger was made a Mohunderam, or inferior magistrate; and neither of them, up to Dec. 18, 1829, had evinced the slightest attachment to their former idolatry, but in every thing relative to their religious profession, showed themselves to be sincere converts to Christianity. One circumstance came to the Doctor's knowledge, which gave him great pain. A missionary, in whose house one of them was domesticated for a certain period, treated him as a menial; and the priest entering his presence on one occasion, with some degree of familiarity, was repulsed, and asked why he did not put off his shoes before he entered his apartment and his presence: "and this," remarked the Doctor, "by a man who was sent thither to destroy caste, and to a man who had been treated as one of my own family, who had dined at the same table with Sir Richard Ottley, and who had been treated with respect by the first gentlemen in this country."
The "Language Society" having been named, the Doctor observed, "It is a remarkable fact, that, with the exception of the Vulgate, &c., most of our modern translations are by the heathen. The Missionaries, and others, have employed them; and not being masters of the language, have' depended entirely on the heathen for a word in their language equivalent to the Greek. In this way, a great deal of Calvinism, and many improper readings, have been introduced, which will have an important bearing on the creed of the people for whom the translations have been made. In one instance, a member of the Society noticed the term stinginess, which had been employed for a word which referred to a directly opposite principle."
Passing on to the Christian ministry, "There is," said he, "a great deal of fictitious character among the ministers of the present day. Formerly it was not so. The men with whom I associated in early life, were of sterling make. But now, they are aping Mr. -- and Mr. A young lad came to my house -- a preacher; I asked him to pray: if I had not known, I should have thought it was Mr. -- . His voice and his sentences were perfectly of the school: and the imitation was so complete, that it descended even to the reading of a note and the winking of the eyes. It was Mr. -- everywhere, -before and behind. The young men especially, are quite a different race from their fathers: they are stiffened up, and cut out by reading, study, and mimicry, till there is very little genuine natural character left. I abhor all aping, -- I care not who the man is."
Another subject which engaged his attention at this time, in connection with the Sunday Schools, is worthy of serious consideration: it is taken up in a letter to the Rev. J. Entwisle, who had pressed him to preach some occasional sermons at Sheffield.
My dear brother, -- Last evening I returned from an excursion of more than 200 miles, which I made to preach for Sunday Schools. I went off afflicted with lumbago, and brought it back with me; on my return, I began seriously to reflect upon my conduct, and to examine whether there were most of wisdom or folly in it. I thought, there was a time, when Sunday Schools were not well established, and but little known; and then extraordinary exertions were necessary to prove their utility to the public; the case is now widely altered; -- these schools are established and well known and their importance universally acknowledged: these extraordinary exertions are, therefore, no longer necessary; and every school should be so organized as to render them useless, and it must be so if we wish to secure their permanency -- for whatever is forced is unnatural, and whatever is unnatural cannot be permanent. I concluded, that I had possibly been doing evil rather than good, by encouraging that species of unnecessary exertion, and preventing the people from having recourse to those more natural and regular means which would induce them to proportion their expenditure to their regular income, and not take those incautious steps by which they burden themselves, and cripple a good work, depending' upon the fortuitous influence of some strange preacher, who it was hoped would succeed in exciting the people to give more than they were wont to do, or, perhaps, could be well justified in doing. After thinking a great deal upon this subject, I could not help concluding, that, at best, I was acting no wise part; and that nothing could vindicate the steps taken but the opportunity of preaching Christ crucified where he could not be heard of, but which case could not occur in our connection. Most seriously do I think, that these things should be left in every place to the preachers on the spot; and that this is the only way to bring them to a regular plan, and secure their permanency; for, I repeat it, this forcing work will not answer the end much longer, and should be immediately abandoned. In the Missionary cause, labors of this kind may ever be useful; because the necessity of the measure cannot be known but by accounts received from heathen nations, of the great want of the Gospel, and the wretchedness of the inhabitants; and these should, by the ministers of Christ, be brought, at least once a year, before the Christian public, to excite their commiseration and charity.
Though I should be glad to see the friends at Sheffield, yet I cannot believe that my going is at all necessary upon this occasion, while such men as yourself and coadjutors are there -- Men whom we are accustomed to call from their circuits to preach for such charities in other places! Besides I have several Missionary Meetings to attend in April, and believe it will be hardly possible for me to get through the whole: this will sufficiently plead my excuse with my good friends in Sheffield. I hear of nothing strange in the connection.
I am, yours affectionately, -- A. CLARKE.
One little incident, characteristic of the Doctor's kindness and condescension, while at Millbrook, should not pass unnoticed. Some of the colliers, who were members of the Wesleyan Society, observed, that they had to rise at four o'clock in the morning to go to their employment, and expressed a fear lest they should not be up in time. The Doctor quietly remarked, "I will pledge my word, you will be ready in time for your work." The next morning, precisely at four o'clock, the Doctor was unexpectedly at the doors of the poor men in his neighborhood, rousing them from their slumbers; a practice which he continued for some time. Overwhelmed with gratitude, but unable to requite him for such attention, they thought they must nevertheless meet it in some small way. Having heard that he was sometimes feverish in a morning, and dry and parched in the mouth, they concluded that an apple would be very cooling: and, accordingly, at their bidding, their children were wont to steal out early in the morning, walk through the wet grass, and pluck two or three apples with the dew upon them, and take them to the study window, which, when the gentle tap was given, was presently opened by the Doctor, who, with a view to relieve the parents from a sense of obligation, as well as to encourage emotions of gratitude, received the boon; the children tripping off with buoyant step delighted by his acceptance of their offerings.
From the Conference of 1817 to that of 1819, the Doctor's name stood on the Minutes for Liverpool; and there he took the share of labor allotted to him in connection with the other preachers. It was in the year of the last date, that things were assuming a threatening aspect in Ireland. He observed on the subject, "The times do not appear auspicious; and I am afraid, that the measures which our government are now pursuing, will make all worse; as the lower classes, which are the numeral bulk, and physical strength of the kingdom, appear to have lost all confidence in their rulers. Nothing is done to soothe these discontented spirits; and, I am sure, it is perfectly possible to draw the cord too tight. But complaint is useless they think these strong coercive measures are the best; and they may answer the end for a time, but they will have a re-action: for so it has been, in such circumstances, in the history of every nation in the world. Strong coercive measures, founded on petty occasions, are not the characteristics of a magnanimous government, but of a feeble and timid one. How far these observations apply to our present administration, I leave others to decide." This subject he dwells on more minutely in a letter to his brother-in-law, Mr. Butterworth.
My dear brother B., -- It is true "we seldom hear from one another;" this I have often deplored, because I have frequently needed your counsel, and would have asked it, but that I feared coming upon you at a time when you might be borne down with business and fatigue, and my application would only add to the grievance. The contents of your letter are grievous -- but to me not new. I seldom meddle with public affairs: God has not made me a ruler of the people; but I see much distress, and hear of more, and I must be utterly unworthy the name of Christian, if only eye and ear did not affect my heart. The three great interests in the nation are in a state of the most afflictive distress -- I mean the mercantile; the agricultural; and th manufacturing interests; and which is the least hopeless case I can scarcely tell from anything within my own view. I have seen failures here to the amount of nearly two millions of money in the course of a single week and failures too, where none were ever suspected. The exorbitant assessed taxes, and the poor-rates, are draining the vital blood of the agricultural interests; for, as our manufacturers have comparatively fallen, and as our commerce has become crippled, there is neither money nor employment for the poor and the mechanic; and the farmer, who is obliged to cultivate his land, and has paid a high price for labor, &c., cannot sell the ample produce of his fields for one-half of the money it has cost him; and, consequently, cannot meet the demands of tax-gatherers, the claims of the poor-rate, and the rent of the landlord. The agricultural interest can never live, unless every farm produce three rents: one, of course, goes to the landlord -- one for taxes and the maintenance of the stock, and one to the support of the family. But the taxes and rates alone, take more than one rent; and as the produce sells so much below its value, there is little left for the family, the stock, and the expensive contingencies which invariably occur. My own estate is one of the best of its size in this country; in its cultivation, science and economy walk hand in hand; now, such is the depreciation of the produce of the fields, owing to the scarcity of money resulting from the failure of trade, that, had I to meet the demands of a landlord and the interest of stock, after paying taxes and rates, I am satisfied, I could not meet those demands, out of the produce of the soil, with 2s. 8d. in the pound Now, if this be my state, what must the state of others be in the same circumstances, and without my advantages? But enough of this -- you tell me, there are some schemes at least in embryo, for the help of the poor. I am glad of this; for, though I consider all such as necessarily partial in their operation, and inefficient in reference to the mass of the people, yet they must do public and general good from this circumstance, -- The people see, from such exertions, that their distresses are known, felt, and commiserated; and this excites their hopes, inspires public confidence, and prevents despair. Howsoever local the application of relief may be, the beneficial impression will be general; especially if men high in office, and connected with government, will take an ostensible and decided part in such benevolent endeavors. Had I authority and means, I could do much; but I have done what I could: the poor have not been able to get clothes: in God's mercy to them, the winter has been mild -- I have bought blankets, shirting, flannel, &c., &c.; and clothed many a naked individual, and helped not a few families: this has removed wretchedness from the poor of my own immediate neighborhood, and I have contrived labor for several who were wholly unemployed: I have also answered many an objection, and quieted many a murmur against government. May God help us! for inefficient must be all the help of man, to remove the aggregate of these evils. I am now on my road to Yorkshire, but will send you the laws of St. Lucius as soon as I return, -- it is an excellent work. Is Mrs. B. better? Yours affectionately, -- A. CLARKE.
Tact is necessary to meet private as well as public hostility and grievances, and will sometimes silence clamor, when force would only aggravate the feeling it was designed to tranquilize. Apply this to religious persecution. "I was in company," said the Doctor, "where the subject of persecution was introduced; when a person present, to whom I was a stranger, told us, that his mode of acting, when he fell among the enemies of religion, was this:-- When anything was said against the Methodists and the people of God, he immediately gave the person who said it, to understand, that he was one of them, and then desired to know what he had to allege against them; for, as he had joined them from a persuasion, that they were the people of God, if they were not so he should be glad to be undeceived. He generally found that this was sufficient to silence these men." The Doctor added, on this fact, "In the presence of the decided Christian, the sinner is awed and confounded."
It was in the course of this year, 1819, -- having previously more than once tried to disengage himself from it, that he resigned his office as Sub-Commissioner of the Public Records; and having freed himself from it, he proceeded with greater regularity and rapidity with his Commentary; taking an occasional preaching excursion at the urgent request of his friends, for the benefit of the church and its funds. One of these excursions was taken in the autumn of the year, when he went into Cornwall, and preached respectively at Hayle, Helston, Redruth, Falmouth, Truro, St. Austell, and Dock. At St. Austell, the timbers in the gallery being too short, it was found they had started out from the walls, through the immense pressure upon them, which shook it to its center -- being left supported only by its pillars. Though great terror and confusion spread through the congregation, the Doctor, who, in all probability, would have been one of the first victims, preserved his presence of mind, and his post, and no one was hurt. From thence he proceeded to London, and preached in City Road Chapel the last Sunday in October. This journey, and its pulpit toil, had a painful effect upon his physical energies. His buoyancy of spirit, however, never forsook him, gleams of which are to be seen in the following remarks on his journey from London to Millbrook, to his son-in-law, Mr. Hook.
"Upon the whole, we got on as well as could be expected; but the roads were in such a condition, that we lost rather more than two whole hours; for we did not reach Prescot till almost nine at night. We their took a chaise, built all our luggage about us, and without us; and got to Millbrook a little before ten -- where we found every one well; and we have not yet heard that anything has been wrong since we left home. We were well known all along the way; and though we had an immensity of luggage, yet we were not charged one penny. I did not wish to let kindness go unrewarded; and, therefore, gave to each of the guards 7s. 6d. Mother bore the journey very well: I was very weary: the Portuguese took a glass of rum with everything, and took snuff wholesale. He spoke French very well; and I, as well as I could. 1 have not spoken so much French for thirty-five years. Give our love to the lads. Thras' vile bottle, as strong as a cobweb, containing the and-flatulent liquor, broke, without any provocation, in mother's work-bag, and ruined the whole Navigation. How abominable to keep bottles, that are too weak to carry their own fill of fluid!" Being in London again at the close of the year, and not having an opportunity of seeing Mr. Butterworth at the time he wrote, he addressed him on a subject which will not quite coincide with the views of some of the Wesleyans in the present day, but to which they will do well to take heed, and would have done better, provided the same sentiments had imbued their minds.
My very dear brother, -- I have heard, since I came to town, that it is in contemplation to publish a newspaper among the Methodists. Had I not had this information from a quarter that puts its truth beyond doubt, I could not have believed it; as a measure more fraught with danger could not, in my apprehension, be projected or executed among us. We have, at present, a great deal too much of a political spirit; a spirit as distant from the spirit of the Gospel, as light is from darkness. Already I perceive a great tendency to political and party feeling; and a newspaper will determine the business, and divide those who may long continue one without such excitements. We are the friends of all, and the servants of all: when we take up a newspaper, we take up a determinate side; and, in effect, shut the doors against all those who may hold political opinions differing from our newspaper. I have seen this fatally exemplified in the ministry of those who were justly denominated "political preachers" among ourselves. I have known the democratic preachers divide the congregations and societies: I have seen the outrageously loyal do the same, and the flock of God has been scattered by both; but this was upon a limited scale: such preachers were not numerous, and being succeeded by men who preached nothing but the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified, the divisions were soon healed; though not without loss on both sides of much spiritual life, and scars and cicatrices, observable enough, of the wounds they had received. A newspaper among us will effect all these evils on a great scale: one party will think it too high; another will think it too low: disputations will arise, and spirituality and true religion be irreparably damaged. To talk of a newspaper without politics, and to talk of politics without taking a determined party side, is as absurd as it is universally contradicted by facts. We are too apt already to become incautious in our language, and to express sentiments, which, when properly examined and analyzed, will appear to the dispassionate, as far from the spirit of the constitution, as they are in the mode of their discussion, from the spirit of Methodism. As to the disgrace which would necessarily attach itself to our body from such a measure, I need say nothing, because it is sufficiently obvious. Whatever influence you have, I beseech you to use it in order to defeat this project: if it become serious, I will do what I can to prevent it. I shall feel it my duty to warn the church of God against it; and their leave the issue to Him who is the head of all principality and power!
I write thus to you my opinion on the subject of the newspaper; you may make what use you please of it. I shall not attend the meeting today, as I do not wish to spend any time in making observations which would now be useless; and yet which, if there, I should probably feel myself obliged to make.
Yours affectionately, -- A. CLARKE.
In the early part of 1820, he made considerable accessions to his library and museum, but found himself cramped for want of shelves, cases for his mineral and other specimens, &c.; in the arrangement of which he was exceedingly orderly and scientific. Though all seemed fixed for life, and the estate was improving under his care, he felt the inconvenience of a remote residence from the metropolis, and more especially in reference to the printing of his Commentary: hence, he observed to a friend, "Were I sure of a proper place near London, I would think of looking out for a purchaser for Millbrook."
Though several of his preaching excursions were often painful to him, he met with little incidents of real life by the way, which he would have found it difficult to have forgone. He had been at Bolton Abbey, the property of the Duke of Devonshire, and was much pleased with the venerable ruin and the scenery around. From thence he proceeded to Birstal, near Leeds, to preach and attend a Missionary meeting. At the close of his sermon in the morning, he inquired, "What has brought me here? I was never in this place before, -- I know none of you, -- I never saw you as a people before:" then, turning round with benignant feeling to Mr. Hopkins, who sat behind him in the pulpit, he said, "I will tell you what brought me here -- love to Robert Hopkins, whom I have known for nearly the last forty years, and between whom and myself, there has existed nothing but the purest friendship." Mr. Hopkins, a simple-hearted man, thrown off his balance by this unexpected personal appeal, started up, and, as if resolved to be even-handed with the preacher, exclaimed, "Bless God, we have had the best sermon we ever had in our lives!" The Doctor was dumb; he could proceed no further in the war of friendship; and turning to the Mission cause, which he found much more tenable for remark than the fire which burnt in the bosom of his friend, he made his appeal, and opened up the sluices of benevolence in the hearts of his audience. He was appointed to dine at the house of a gentleman in the neighborhood; -- "No," said he, "if Robert Hopkins has only a potato and salt, I intend to dine with him, and from hence I will not move." -The tale of eccentricity is not yet closed. Here the Doctor met, for the first time, the celebrated Samuel Hick, the "Village Blacksmith; and related, with much of pleasantry -- this his first interview. Samuel, with his usual openness and simplicity -- his face covered with smiles, stepped quickly up to the Doctor, -- shook hands with him -- and, after a few words, artlessly proceeded:-" You can get through with preaching better than me: I cannot bear to be disturbed: I have but one idea, you see; and if I lose that, why, I then have no more to go to: but you, Sir, you have a many ideas; so that if you were to lose one, you could pick up another by the way, and go on with it." By "one idea," poor Samuel meant the leading thought on which he intended to dwell. While the relation assists the illustration of intellectual character, it shows also the desolation which sometimes appeared to himself, occasioned by a want of reading, when he turned his eye inward. On going to the public meeting the Doctor had to encounter the outbreaks of another of nature's originals. Old John Phillips, of Osset, was present, and was called upon to speak. He was queer -quaint -- imaginative -- bold -- often loud -- taking every now and then his hearers by surprise. At first, the Doctor seemed scarcely to entertain common respect for him: he sat -- listened -- turned away the eye -- then reluctantly brought it back again: John, at length, laid hold of him, and in a strain of pure impassioned eloquence, riveted him to the spot: the Doctor was like a child in his hand; he brightened up all at once -- the eye dilated -- the crystal tears rolled down his cheeks in succession -- and the only opposite feeling left was, that he was compelled to leave the meeting before it concluded.
Mrs. Butterworth, Mrs. Clarke's youngest sister, died in the course of the month of June of this year, after a painful and lingering illness. On this occasion Doctor Clarke wrote a consolatory letter to Mr. Butter-worth, embodying in it a sketch of her character: to that letter, written some time after, the following refers, embracing another point or two for which it is chiefly introduced. My very dear brother, -- I have made some alterations in the enclosed, and subjected it to a sort of arrangement, adding a line or two. Of her usefulness, I think something should be said: she certainly was very diligent and very useful. When I heard of her death, I wrote you a letter in which I gave a sketch of her character as it then occurred to me; will you have any objection to let me have that letter, and permit me to draw her character a little more at large that it may be published in the Magazine? I think this necessary: it is owing to you, to her, and to the society, to do this; and I have reasons for it, which you shall know some other time. You must have read to you the Sermon on the "Rights of God and Caesar;" it is not long, and may be read at a sitting. The other piece, which you have read, is not a sermon, but a lecture delivered to some young gentlemen: it contains, without party views, the essential principles of the British constitution, and of law itself. I think I know the principles of law and justice as well as most men: for if I am ignorant of these, I am ignorant of the whole system of Science and Theology. You have put in a note concerning "Questionable Details;" I venture to state, that there is not one aphorism of the whole, that admits of a question at all; each of which is an absolute demonstration on the principles laid down, or the facts referred to. The enclosed letter, which I received from one of our chief magistrates, relative to my lecture, you will be pleased with. I have another from a gentleman here, who, in the time of the disturbances, wrote an address to the people in favour of government, which was dispersed in thousands: he also speaks in the highest terms of the lecture, and wishes it circulated over the whole empire. I think one should be sent to several of our principal men; and they will see in it a hair split, which it has not occurred to any of them to attempt. Yours affectionately, -- A. CLARKE.
The Doctor had frequently been solicited to write a Life of Mr. Wesley, and as time advanced was importunately pressed to undertake and complete the work without delay. To this subject allusion has already been made, in vol. I. p. 282-284, 345. In consequence of the appearance of Southey's Life of Wesley, solicitations crowded upon him, supported by a resolution of the Conference of this year, requesting him to write one "suited to the present time and circumstances." Mr. Butterworth, the Doctor's brother-in-law, was among the most urgent, expressing his readiness to undertake the publication of it, on any terms he might propose, or to give him £500. for the copyright. The Doctor himself was strongly inclined to the work; and, in his frankness, remarked to the biographer one day, "It has often appeared to me, that Mr. Wesley was more free and playful with me than with others, under an impression that I might possibly contemplate a life of him; he entered into various family and other affairs, and dwelt upon them, as if anxious to impress me, and give the most correct information. I have many things that have never been presented to the public, both with regard to John and Charles; and if these collections were added to others, some additional light might be thrown on John's life and labors, for as yet we have no proper character of him: the men who have written of him, have not properly understood him. Charles was an enemy to lay preachers, and encouraged them, not so much for their work's sake, as under an impression that they might be stepping-stones to his brother and himself. John was not so: he valued the men, under God; -- employed and respected them -- and considered them as an essential part of his system." The Doctor, on the vote of the Conference, wrote to Mr. Butterworth:
Liverpool, August 21, 1820. My very dear brother B., -- I should have written to you before now, but understanding that your eyes were bad, and that you were out of town for your health, I delayed it till the present. I am come in to go up the shore for my health, for the benefit of salt water.
You will have heard, that I have been requested, by a vote of the Conference, to write a Life of Mr. Wesley; which, the vote stated, should be submitted to a committee of the preachers, who should report to the Conference, which should authenticate the work, &c. Now, if I undertake it at all, I cannot hope to do it tolerably, unless I have the concurrence of the body; and, on this ground, I am satisfied with their having taken it up, as I have now a right to ask for, and expect materials, from every part of the connection; and on no other ground could I do this without exciting jealousy. As to its being subjected to a committee of the Conference, I fear nothing: I believe I shall not write anything on that subject, that the great body will not approve; but I think it would have been more creditable to themselves not to have mentioned this, because the public might be led to judge from it, that it must be a partial thing; and perhaps some may go so far as to say; that it was written to serve the party, and not to display things as they were. I know the reviewers said of Mr. Hampson's and Messrs. Coke and Moore's Life, that the former was written "for Truth and the Public, and the latter for the Connection;" but possibly all this may be obviated without much difficulty: however, what I state, is merely my own impression on the general subject. When Southey's Life became a subject of discussion in the Conference, I spoke on the character of Mr. Wesley for about half an hour; it was without premeditation or design, but the effect was astonishing -- many of the old men were in tears; and I never met with more gratifying demonstrations of affection and respect as were shown afterwards. If there was a particle of jealousy, it was obliged to look out at a friendly eye, and there it was drowned in the tears which flowed for the character which was delineated. After all, I did not engage to undertake it: the Commentary is still a dead-weight upon my mind, and I cannot plod at it as formerly: my health gets soon impaired by close sitting, and my eyes get soon weary.
At my own request, Mr. Moore, who certainly knows more of Mr. Wesley than any other man living, was desired to assist by his counsel and communications, should I undertake it. All were desired to collect materials and anecdotes of original Methodism -- its introduction into particular places, &c. If this be done, much valuable and new publishing matter may be collected and saved. Before I received your letter on this subject, which you may recollect was before Conference, two of my particular friends had urged the measure; they thought Southey's Life a libel on Methodism, and that nothing but a genuine Life could counteract the evil. After all, I should like to do the work, and want only health and time. I should rejoice to get suggestions from any judicious hands: I know of none to whom I can look but you, and Mr. Ward: see what you can do. When I see the way clearly, then I shall know whether I can walk in it. I know you feel a very deep concern in this business, and God has given you counsel and strength: I wish to vindicate the truth of God, and the character of one of the first of men. Yours affectionately, -- A. CLARKE.
Though the biographer differs in opinion from Doctor Clarke, on Southey's Life of Wesley, both as to its literary character, and its effect upon the public mind, yet fidelity binds him to give the following letter to Joseph Butterworth, Esq., which enters more fully into his views and feelings on the subject:--
Millbrook, Dec. 11, 1820. My very dear brother B., -- Your long expected letter is come to hand: I could have wished that you had been more explicit and decisive in delivering your opinion. Your letter was broken open, and had affixed on it the royal arms, with the legend "Comptroller's Office." Penny Post Office. Is it usual or proper to have the letters opened in this way, and then sent without any reason being given, or apology for such an infraction made on the rights of privacy and confidence? If this be right, why then, there is no longer any security for the safety of private communications of any kind, even through the medium of a high and extravagant postage system, or through that of the privileges of Parliament. As I waited for your answer, I have not written a single line of the Life; indeed I could not attempt it till Job was finished: for, whatever you or others may think, I could as soon serve two masters as carry on two such works consecutively. I have no courage to undertake the Life, and am weary of the Commentary; I have now finished the only remaining book that required any especial skill or knowledge. Of the Prophesies I know nothing, and will not expose my folly as others have done theirs, by writing on what I do not understand. Much might be said on the Psalms, but that must be nearly common-place; and I believe it is a Book which stands less in need of a comment than any other in the Bible; almost every body understands it in a general way, so far as edification is concerned. Now as to the Life; if I had the same opinion of S. -- 's work which you have, I should deem it a totally superfluous work to offer another Life to the Public. But I am satisfied, such a work as has been called for, is absolutely necessary, because of the mistaken views created in the public mind by S. -- 's Life of Wesley. Even its literary merit is small; yet, were it candid, were it true, were it a fair representation -- not an anamorphosis of facts -- its want of literary merit might be easily past by, and I should be the last to complain of it; but it is in most respects what it should not be. From its construction and tendency it must do evil; -- not adventitiously but positively -- of direction, and in course. Its grand object in reference to Mr. Wesley is, to show, that his ruling principle was ambition; -- to the gratification of which he bent all his powers, exerted all his zeal, and employed all his diligence; -- and that he was an enthusiast in the adoption of means to accomplish this end. If, then, as Mr. S. everywhere states, his ambition was at the bottom of all his exertions, -- that it was not only the primum mobile, but the totrum mobile of all his conduct, -- then he was, on Mr. S. -- 's showing, a hypocrite: one by whom God could not work; and consequently, all the religious effects, produced by his exertions, are only enthusiasm and delusion. There is no escape from this conclusion. I assert, that Mr. S., in every page, directly or indirectly, studies to show, that Mr. Wesley acted, ever acted by enthusiasm, -through ambition; and if so, Mr. Wesley, considering the wondrous effects produced by his agency, can be considered in no other light than that, which, on Mr. S. -- 's principles, shows him to have been. Allow Mr. S. -- 's principles, and you must allow these; and if you allow his book to exist, then the above is the fair and legitimate conclusion. A man pretending, during the whole of a long life, to labor for the glory of God, and the good of the world, -- working throughout the whole from the principle of ambition to the gratification of the passions it excites, -- must have been a man, against whose influence the world should be put on its guard.
It is true, that from the turn Mr. S. has given to this subject, and the warm coloring with which he has invested it, he shows, that the principles may be profitably used, and get a salutary state-direction; and the very people themselves, who act from these principles on their established system, may be pressed into the service of that worldly religion, which is used by the rulers of the earth, for the accomplishment of state purposes. Hence, several worldly men have read the life, recommended it to others, seized on the principles by which such mighty works have, as they think, been done; -- wish to put them into another channel, under another direction, in reference to another widely different end. These will not hesitate, from Mr. S. -- 's account, to extol Mr. Wesley as a wise man -- a great man -- one who did a vast deal of good, &c. &c.; and would wish, nay labor, to have his followers united to, and absorbed in, the ecclesiastical establishment of the country. Does one of these men exalt him as the man who was appointed by God to awaken a nation sleeping on the very verge of the gulf of perdition? -- the man who demonstrated the fallen condition of the human race, -- who asserted, defended, and enforced the doctrine of justification by faith, through the sacrificial death of Christ Jesus, -- as the man who showed that true religion is Christ in us the hope of glory, -- who maintained and proved, the doctrine of the witness of the Spirit, -- and of salvation from all sin in this life? No, no! for in these lights Mr. S. never sees. Moral good must, it is true, be respected; for decency of conduct is necessary to cover ambitious designs. On Mr. S. -- 's principles, no spiritual good was done by Mr. Wesley's preaching, nor by that of his successors; all this is enthusiasm with Mr. S. God is not, cannot be in such a work -- for with Mr. S. there is no such religion; there is no communion with God there is no life of God in the soul of man, implied in Christianity; the pretense to it is enthusiasm: and hence, Mr. S. extols those preachers most, whose labors were least distinguished by the conversion of sinners. See the all-speaking, all-overwhelming proof which he gives in selecting Mr. G. S., whom he exalts above all the preachers who had ever been associated with Mr. Wesley; and who, he says, never entered into the enthusiastic system! -- a preacher whom you, and all who knew him, knew him to be a good and sensible man; was perhaps one of the least owned of God, in the public work. This exactly suited Mr. S. -- 's system, and this man is exalted beyond all the others, for the great purpose of pouring contempt on the spiritual work; and yet S.'s experience in the Arminian Magazine, for 1782, from which Mr. S. took all he could know of him, is the most barren of all the original lives of the Methodist preachers; and gives account of only two years of his ministry, viz.:-- 1763 -- 64. The latter years of his life, between twenty and thirty, be spent in London, as corrector of the press, and assistant in the concerns of the book-room, and had his regular station with the traveling and local-preachers; and during all this time,, he was never distinguished for anything but his honest, blunt uprightness; and never appears to have been used in any particular way for the conversion of souls. This very man Mr. S. picks out as the most eminent of the Methodist preachers, and who could never enter into the system of enthusiasm. You must surely see the reason of all this.
I have read Mr. Watson's observations; it is an excellent defense of Mr. Wesley and Methodism, against the calumnies of Mr. S. With his personalities I have nothing to do. Mr. S. deserved anything in this way; but such matters in controversy can never add any weight to an argument, and should be omitted: I should have been glad if Mr. Watson had left everything relative to the quondam political creed of Mr. S. and his tergiversation out of his work. Still it is a complete refutation of the calumnies of Mr. S., and a successful defense of Methodism and its doctrines against his aspersions; and should be dispersed by thousands through the Connection, and through the nation, at the lowest possible price. It is personality I regret; because everything of this kind must be retorted; and then there is an end of fair discussion in order to find out truth. In such cases, the weight of the old adage should be felt on all sides: "He that resides in a glass house, should beware how he throws stones at the dwellings of neighbors."
If I am not much mistaken, S.____'s Life will be a source of injury to ninny in our Connection: men of little religion, but strong in worldly prudence, will, on the show of S____'s bait, swallow the hook concealed in it. They will think, that it will be best for Methodism to put itself more particularly under the protection of the State; and wish us to sacrifice our Christian liberty in order to procure worldly respectability; and should we do what Mr. S. and his friends advise, we should at once annihilate the discipline of our Society, our spiritual government of God's church, and soon make shipwreck of the doctrines that are according to godliness. Even our loyal principles are pleaded against us, to show that we should make overtures to form the recommended coalition! Any attempts on our part to do this, would be the immediate cause a division, The most holy part of the people would be faithful to their original calling, and set up for themselves, and soon be exposed to persecution, because their principles would be suspected of disloyalty. Sometime ago, it was proposed to government to direct the "bishops to ordain twenty-three of the traveling preachers; and from this condition, the, whole body of Methodists would be brought into the vortex of the church: twenty-three of the chief being ordained, would bring all the rest; and the people would necessarily follow their leaders. Our separate communion would be given up, allowing only the privilege of classleading; and by this the church would gain such an acquisition of political strength, and the state likewise, that the dissenting opposition would be worthy of no regard, and soon dwindle into nothing." This scheme, after' it had been submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury, was laid before me; and, although I was one of the twenty-three elected, I lifted up my voice against it, and denounced it. Were the time unfortunately come, in which the Methodists must either throw their whole weight into the national or dissenting scale, -- did providence clearly indicate, by circumstances, that it had placed us in this dilemma, -I believe, the great body would not long deliberate -- it would, without hesitation, range its many thousands under the banner of the Established Church. But we are not in these circumstances -- we are a middle party, existing independently of either, and capable of doing good to each; and while we abide in our calling, sacrificing nothing to pomp or worldly influence, we shall continue to be what, by the grace of God, we are now -- a respectable and useful people: in a word, the salt of God in the nations of the earth. I have received no communication from any quarter relative to the Life, but from the holy and venerable rector of St. Chad's, in Shrewsbury; he has furnished me with all the letters that passed between himself and Mr. Wesley; and some anecdotes of Doctor Annesly, by Samuel Wesley, sen., (father of John,) and of Mr. Wesley himself. I did not know that such things existed till he wrote and proffered these helps. In a long sheet of anecdotes written as small as Greek, which I received last night, you will not be displeased with the following note to myself:
"Shrewsbury, Deer. 8th, 1820.
"My dear Sir, -- The above are all the letters I ever received from Mr. Wesley; I value them, I cannot tell you how highly. Glad shall I be if they will afford you any service. You are the fittest man upon earth to write his Life; and I pray for grace, health, encouragement, and success. Well do I remember you, with Mr. Wesley, when I called upon that good man in Bristol between forty and fifty years since; like myself you were then a young man -- in this month I shall complete my 75th year. I remember also, how much I was taken with you: may our friendship be eternal! I thank you for your letter, and hope the answer I return will be agreeable. I am reading S. -- 's Life of Wesley, which I wish had never appeared. I cannot see what other motive he could have had in writing it, besides getting money; but I suppose his end will be accomplished. Shall I tell you a secret before we part? I should wish to have ray name, worthless as it is, to pass down the stream of time united to yours and Mr. Wesley's. Being once mentioned, if in the margin, will please and satisfy your admiring and affectionate friend. Begging your prayers, I am, my very dear Sir, your affectionate brother and servant, -- THOMAS STEADMAN."
Mr. Steadman and I met at Park-gate Ferry, in the year 1811, the first time since the year 1789; though both comparatively old and gray-headed, we at once recognized each other. Should it please God that I write this life, his name shall stand prominently, not in the margin but in the text; and I shall think the page honored where it stands. Mr. A. Knox was with him a long time, and gave him about thirty letters that passed between Mr. Wesley and him, and with them several important papers, and all in confidences He tells me that he has written to him for permission to communicate the letters to me: if I get these they will be a treasure. I now come to thank you for the hints relative to the Life: they are excellent, and should be carefully attended to, by any one who undertakes this task. I would not, however, rank the speech to the poor people when penniless -( he was stepping into the chaise at City Road,) -- in the imperfections of his character: from my perfect knowledge of him, I must conscientiously say, that he stands, in my opinion, at the head of the whole human race; and to maintain and prove this point I should feel little difficulty.
I am sorry, truly so, for the death of your brother Thomas; he was a man I greatly respected: if he has made his own will, there is little room to fear any litigation after his death. It is only the wills made by lawyers that are uncertain, confused, and dangerous. The law of words and phrases exists not in the law of wills: wherever the intention of the testator is expressed, all is safe; the law works at nothing but this. If I possessed millions, I would take care that no lawyer's pen should ever be used to express a purpose of my heart. In making a will, common sense is better than all the botherums and borums in the nation. The state of the country is every way bad: it is time our ministers should go about their business; they have been too long employed about that of the country, which they were never able to manage; whether better may be gotten, I cannot tell, but I believe the change would allay the ferment in the country. You know little of this in London; you cannot know it: it is not fairly represented to you, and of it the king appears totally ignorant. We cannot get above 7s. 6d. for the best wheat, and we cannot bring a bushel of it to the market which has not cost us 12s.; let it fall in price as it may, the oppressive taxes still continue. If the agricultural interest of the nation sink, (and it is sinking as fast as it can,) what signifies the commerce of the nation, or its political relations? not one rush. I know it is common for those who affect to be loyal to deny these things, or to gloss them over; and so would I, if I did not fear a lie: our great men may continue to despise the cry of fire, till the flaming roof falls in about their ears. I am endeavoring everywhere to preach patience, forbearance, and trust in God. It is a mercy that the people hear us. Our own we can keep quiet, because the religion of Christ has hold of their hearts.
I am sorry for the long and severe continuation of your affliction, and we have made it, and often still make it, a point of pleading in our prayers, that God may relieve you and spare your sight. I have no doubt that it is a nervous affection, and that rest and bracing of the whole system are essentially requisite to your recovery. I wish you would come to us for a month: I am sure we could make you comfortable. You know our family is small: only the big and little Mary and myself. Mary Anne will write your letters for you and it may be, that under your direction, I might begin this Life. Our air is pure and healthful. Jon, you know, has been sometime finished, and I hope it will be brought into circulation before Christmas: no part of the sacred writings has cost me so much trouble and anxiety as this: it is a poem at least as obscure as the Cassandra of Lycophron; the latter has never yet been understood, and probably not the former. All here send their love to you.
Yours affectionately, -- A. CLARKE.
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